We were inspired by this topic after a question on our ski blog. Taking a gondola maybe preferred by groups with beginners, families with young children, anxious skiers or anyone that prefers to keep out of the cold (why are you skiing?) Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but for the majority of us we just choose whatever gets us up the mountain quick enough. So for a bit of fun we decided to take a look at which ski resorts you can access the most ski area without having to sit on a chairlift. Here are our top 5 ski resorts to avoid chairlifts.
From Val d’Isere you can take the Olympique cable car to the Rocher De Bellevarde peak at 2827m where there is a huge selections of ski runs from the top. There are green, blue and red run options all the way down to 1785m where you then have the benefit of taking the funicular at La Daille back to the top. From here there is the blue Santons and black Face de Bellevarde which you can ski all the way back to Val d’isere. On the otherside of the valley, the Solaise cable car gives you access to another green beginner area, plus the red run Plan that forms the black Rhone-Alpes or red Piste M. In neighbouring Tignes, it is possible to take the Funiculaire Grande Motte and the Grand Motte cable car all the way to the glacier at 3456m before skiing all the way back down to Val Claret on a choice of blue and red runs.
Levi is a fantastic resort for beginners; the small ski area mainly consists of blue and red runs which are great for anyone new to ski, particularly with the quiet slopes and lack of queuing. What is also great for beginners is that there is only one chairlift - you can access the 43 pistes in Levi using the 2 cabin lifts, 1 chair lift, 14 T-bars, 6 drag lifts and 4 rope lifts.
Similar to many of the large resorts, there are many chairlifts in Alpe d’Huez but there is a surprising amount of bubbles, gondolas and telecabins where you can access all over the ADH ski area. From the village in 1860m, the 1st and 2nd Troncon can take you all the way up to 2700m where there is an assortment of green, blue and red runs that take you back to ADH. Otherwise you can carry on and take the Pic Blanc cable car up to the glacier at 3330m. If all lifts and runs are open, from 2700m you can follow the blue runs Couloir and Boulevard des Marmottes to Plat des Marmottes and take the Marmottes 2 and 3 up to the glacier as well. From Oz en Oisans at 1350m there are the Poutran bubbles to get you back over to ADH or there is the L’Alpette bubble that takes you up to 2050m, with green, blue and red runs to ski, or the Alpette Rousses cable car to 2800m at Dome des Petities Rousses with fantastic red runs that came take you all the way back down to Oz en Oisans or ADH.
From Verbier village at 1500m you can get all the way to Mont Fort at 3330m using la Chaux bubble, plus the Gentianes and Mont Fort cable cars. Verbier is home to some of the most challenging skiing in the Alps, including the runs from Mont Fort. There is a fantastic variety of tough reds and exhilarating blacks from intermediates and advanced.
La Plagne has a huge 225km of ski area across the villages; yes there are mainly chairlifts to access the whole expanse but you maybe surprised how much you could access without having to touch a chair. From the Grande Rochette ‘Funitel’ Gondola in Plagne Centre there are a variety of blue, red and black runs to ski down. From the top at 2505m you can head left to pick up the black Rochette or the leisurely blue run Mira back down to Centre, or if you head right at the top you can access the red run Carina which leads into a few blue options plus the Colorado Park. Also from the top you can access the back of this mountain where you can head all the way down to Champagny at 1250m, although to get back to Plagne Centre you will need to take a bubble and 2 chair lifts. At Plagne Bellecotte you can ride the Roche de Mio bubble, which makes a stop in Belle Plagne, to the peak of Roche de Mio at 2700m. From the top you can take the blue run Tunnel back down to Belle Plagne and Bellecote, or you can choose my favourite run in La Plagne, the red Sources which leads in to blue runs back down to Bellecotte at 1930m. Also from the top you can access the back of the mountain on the fantastic blue run Levasset, plus the Bellecotte bubble up to the glacier. Even non skiers can take in the views at 3417m on the glacier as it is completely accessible from Bellecotte with the 2 bubble lifts. If you did want to completely avoid chairlifts, you can take the ski bus between Bellecotte and Centre, otherwise the Colosses and La Bergerie chair lifts can take you between the two ski areas quickly.
When choosing the next skiing trip our mind often wonders to those extraordinary bucket list destinations. There are 97 countries across the world that offer skiing and snowboarding. With ski resorts in the northern and southern hemisphere it is possible to ski throughout the year – it’s always snowing somewhere! With so many possibilities on offer there many fantastic and unique experiences to enjoy in the mountains. Here are our top 5 once in a lifetime ski experiences to get your imagination running wild.
For incredible alpine scenery and breath taking untouched landscapes, there is nothing that rivals a heli-ski adventure in Alaska. The Alaska ranges have been made famous by extreme ski and snowboard films – remember those opening scenes in Art of Flight? This was Alaska's Tordrillo mountain range. Heli skiing and snowboarding in Alaska is the ultimate freeriding adventure; the varied terrain and epic snowfall will guarantee that adrenaline rush you’ve been craving for. The last frontier is so vast you will feel like the first person discovering a new mountain. There are a large amount of heli ski operators across the Alaskan ranges that run singles days as well as multiple day trips. Alaska Heli ski runs are long, so you will get lots of skiing mileage during your trip, much more than other ranges in North America. Resorts in Alaska receive huge amounts of snow, with the highest parts of the mountains averaging 20-25m per season
Can you ski the 10 main resorts of the largest ski area in the world in one day? The answer is yes, and it’s an excellent day out that gets you to all the corners of this massive ski area. What better way to brag to your friends, than saying you’ve skied the 600km of the largest linked ski area in the world, Les Trois Vallées. Our Sales Director, Adam Johnson took 3 Iglu team mates on a mission to conquer the French giant. AJ takes us through their epic day...
Skiing in Finland is unlike any other Alpine ski holiday. If you want to ski in breath taking, peaceful scenery surrounded by ice-sculpted forests and frozen lakes, coupled with uncrowded pistes and resorts, a ski holiday to Finland offers you a very refreshing alternative. Skiing in Finland is varied, with a variety of runs suited for all abilities, but the ski areas are smaller than what we are used to in the Alps and ideally suited to beginners and intermediates. One of the fantastic reasons to come to ski in Finland is to experience one of the many unique activities at your fingertips. Enjoy meeting the animals and learning about their way of life on either the Reindeer safaris or the Husky dog sledding trips or for adrenaline junkies, you can get your pulse racing on one of the exhilarating snowmobile adventures and a magical visit to Santa is an absolute must for the whole family. If you are very lucky you may even catch one of the most amazing natural wonders of the world, the Northern Lights. Head away from the town and bright lights and you should be able to see the lights at certain times throughout winter.
Everyone deserves a spot of luxury in their lives, which is why one must experience the ultimate luxury ski holiday in a stunning chocolate box chalet in one of the finest resorts in the world, Val d’Isere. Well-stocked wine cellars, gourmet cuisine, private cinemas, chauffeurs, outdoor hot-tubs, a roaring log fire... luxury chalets are all about being pampered to the max. Good food is an essential part of a luxury ski holiday. The talented chefs are experienced and creative artists, producing modern and traditional cuisine to tantalize your taste buds. Everything in the luxury ski chalets are designed to make you feel relaxed, pampered and special. Val d'Isere offers one of the world's best ski areas, the Espace Killy, along with accommodation for everyone and anyone. If you are looking for a luxury private chalet then look no further than Chalet Lafitenia, run by Val d'Isere's most exclusive chalet operator and offering the standards of accommodation, food and service that you would expect from a luxury chalet in a world class resort.
Japan is home to the powder your dreams are made of. You may find it surprising that ski resorts in Japan get some of the deepest snow in the world. Located in the northern island Hokkaido in the Abuta district, Niseko is one of the most famous ski resorts in Japan. With an average of 11m of snow fall a year it is regarded as one of the snowiest ski resorts in the world. Niseko is made up of five interlinked areas, Annapuri, Higashiyama (Village), Hirafu, Hanazono & Moiwa. Hirafu is the main resort where you will find the majority of the town and accommodation. The terrain at Niseko is varied; the main ski area offers great ‘ski-what-you-can-see’ terrain with easy to access to fun off piste between the main ski runs. The legendary tree runs are in the strawberry fields and Miharashi with steep runs at the super alpen course and under the Kogen gondola. I was lucky enough to be in Niseko for a few months of the 2013-14 season and can guarantee that nothing will compare after a trip to this ski mecca. The trip does require a 13 hour flight to Tokoyo, followed by a domestic flight to Sapporo and then a 2-3 hour coach transfer straight to the resort, but once you’ve had that first day in fresh, waist deep champagne powder you will forget all about that journey to this dream destination. There may be a ton of snowfall in Niseko but bad weather doesn’t have to mean bad visibility with the bounty of tree runs and off piste forests to ski through. If you are lucky enough to get a clear day on the hill then you can marvel at the stunning view of Mount Yotei and views of the ocean if you get high enough. If you live for powder days and fanaticise about white snowscapes that your favourite skiers and snowboarders go year after year, then start planning your trip to the land of the rising sun and make your ski dreams to come true.
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If you are looking for somewhere new to ski this season, well look no further. Don't get lost in the crowds and spend all your time queuing at chairlifts, instead explore undiscovered pistes and charming alpine villages.
Do you remember that feeling when you first discovered your favourite ski resort? Say yes to new adventures and try out these lesser known ski paradises.
Perfect for families Montgenevre is a pretty alpine village that sits on the French-Italian border. It has a fantastic ski area with varied runs and access to the 400km of the massive Milky Way ski circuit. It is particularly good for beginners and intermediates making it the perfect family resort. The traditional style town may be quiet but this is reflected on the slopes with minimal queues across the mountain. During a week in January, I often felt we were the only ones on the entire chairlift. With ultimate mountain time you can guarantee a memorable week on the slopes in Montgenevre.
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Perfect for snowboarders Saalbach is a superb ski resort and is renowned for its excellent range of pistes and efficient list system linking over 200km to Hinterglemm and Leogang. Snowboarders will relish in the varied terrain and 3 snow parks while on powder days you can enjoy pockets of powder and making fresh tracks through trees off piste. The fun doesn’t stop once the lifts are closed, after sunset the party sets in. Saalbach has one of Austria’s liveliest party circuits with 40 bars and discos to experience the famous Austrian après.
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Perfect for intermediates and experts Ideal for intermediates and experts, this beautiful ski area offers long wide red runs and amazing off piste skiing. Snowboarders will like the wide slopes and freeriders will find plenty to do with little jumps and bumps and challenging runs further afield. Champoluc is a hidden treasure in Italy; the charming, unspoilt village creates a magical feel for your ski holiday. It is inexpensive with great food across the resort.
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Perfect for off piste Klosters has acquired international status from the presence of the Royal Family and film stars. This beautiful resort oozes Swiss charm with its picturesque chalets and horse drawn sleighs. The Klosters/Davos Rega ski pass gives access to a fantastic 310km of runs that are serviced by an extensive lift system. The glittering powdered snow stretching far as you can see makes Klosters an incredible place for off piste skiing and snowboarding. As it is relatively unknown, there are many opportunities for first tracks.
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Perfect for a ski holiday you’ll never forget Arosa is an alpine fairy-tale resort nestled in the Swiss Alps. With spectacular mountain views and a village-life atmosphere, you will fall in love with this beautiful resort. This gem is part of one of the largest linked ski areas in Switzerland now there is a new lift link built from Lenzerheide to Arosa, creating 225kms runs. With enough skiing to keep all abilities happy and minimal queues, you couldn’t choose a better ski resort for a ski holiday. If you have any non-skiers in your group or you seek a more relaxed afternoon after a morning on the slopes, there are walking and sledging routes in the town and it is easy to meet up for lunch in one of the numerous mountain restaurants and sample a delicious Swiss fondue.
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We love escaping to the mountains for a week of skiing or snowboarding whilst being surrounded by stunning alpine scenery. Even though purpose build ski areas lack a degree of charm, it’s difficult to call any ski resort ugly when there is a beautiful mountain backdrop on your doorstep.
Europe offers world class skiing and is not only home to some of the most sought after ski resorts in the world but also the most picturesque areas. We take a look at our favourite 5 ski resorts lavishing in breath-taking landscape
The Jungfrau region is famous for the elite views of the 3 mountain giants - Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. The unspoilt magnificent resort of Wengen is accessed by an enchanting mountain railway, as no traffic is permitted in the town. Traditional architecture with beautifully renovated interiors adorns the resort bringing immaculate quality and comfort together in the 21st century. The full area Jungfrau Top Ski Region ski pass covers not only Wengen but 213kms of pistes, providing almost unlimited scope for intermediates on a range of relaxing runs or more testing routes down the Kleine Scheidegg mountain.
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The magic of Megeve touches all generations, from the beautiful traditional style town to the stunning tree lined runs and the spectacular views of Mont Blanc. It is difficult to rival the beauty of Megeve’s surrounding landscapes. From its origins as France’s equivalent to Switzerland’s elegant St. Moritz, there is no surprise that this is the playground for the rich and the famous. The medieval centre has many stylish, luxury hotels and chalets and the 325km of piste provide a varied, leading ski area.
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Skiers and snowboarders flock to the Tyrolean Alps every year because of the attractive villages combined with the exceptional ski areas. Tirol is home to world class skiing with riding at over 100 ski resorts. The charming resort of Alpbach is one of the jewels in Austria's crown and is indeed a true winter wonderland with superb skiing and comfortable, high quality accommodation. The small, family friendly resort is filled with Austrian charm with its sweet, wooden chalets and historic buildings. The newly formed Ski Jewel area has opened up 145km of skiing with lifts up to 2128m with amazing vistas over the Alpbach Valley peaks, the Rofan Range and the Ziller Valley. As well as 3 stunning valley runs the skiing area has a huge choice of freeride possibilities.
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Cortina d'Ampezzo, known as the Queen of the Dolomites, is the premier ski resort in Italy and is often compared to the likes of Courchevel and St. Moritz. The majestic snowcapped Dolomite peaks are awe-inspiring with their unique formations and exceptional natural beauty, which creates the perfect backdrop for this pretty ski town. With some of the finest mountain scenery in the Alps, these stunning peaks and beautiful wooded valleys are particularly stunning at dusk. Cortina is pure Italian style; expect non skiers parading the wealth of shopping spots or most importantly ‘doing’ lunch. The ski area is full of well-groomed pistes great for beginner to intermediate skiers and snowboarders with access to a vast ski area covered on the Dolomiti Superski pass.
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Nestled beneath the magnificent Matterhorn, Zermatt is a traditional town filled with charming chocolate box chalets and jaw-dropping scenery. Situated in the Valais region of Switzerland, this ski area will never fail to charm you. With the panoramic views, crystalline landscape and the highest glacier in the Alps, is it no surprise that Zermatt is considered one of the best ski resorts in the world. The skiing in Zermatt is some of the best in Europe, with 360km of pistes there is something for everyone. Intermediate and Advanced skiers will particular love the wide choice of red and black runs and the famous cosy mountain restaurants. This winter landscape offer lots of sun and with high altitude skiing up to 3883m it is the perfect ski resort throughout the season. A truly romantic paradise.
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